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What is Intestinal Viral Infection (Rotavirus)?

Most dogs are exposed to rotavirus at some point in their lives. Canine rotavirus is part of a large group of RNA viruses from the family Reoviridae. Different strains of rotavirus affect many types of animals, including humans, cats, cattle, pigs and birds as well as dogs, and they are one of the leading causes of diarrhea based illness around the world, primarily in children. Strains of rotavirus are species specific, but the RNA strands have the ability to mutate easily and can jump species fairly often. The virus is most prevalent in third world countries where humans live in close proximity to cattle and other animals. The effect of canine rotavirus is generally mild. Puppies under 12 weeks of age commonly have symptoms of watery diarrhea. This is rarely fatal, unless the puppy is especially weak or the infection is combined with another disease such as canine parvovirus or coronavirus. In adult dogs, rotavirus is not usually symptomatic and dogs that have been exposed to the disease carry antibodies in their feces, so secondary infection is less serious. Occasionally a particularly virulent strain of the virus can cause a problem, or dogs with weakened immune symptoms may be especially susceptible. Although canine rotavirus does not typically affect humans, the virus can be zoonotic (communicable to humans), so good hygiene practices are essential, especially around large populations of infected dogs. There is currently no vaccine for rotavirus in dogs.

Rotaviruses can cause infection in many animals including humans. The virus is rarely symptomatic in dogs, but puppies may experience mild diarrhea and occasionally other symptoms as well. Veterinarians call this canine rotavirus. The disease is usually not serious and most symptoms resolve themselves in 8-10 days.

Intestinal Viral Infection (Rotavirus) Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,500

Average Cost

$850

Symptoms of Intestinal Viral Infection (Rotavirus) in Dogs

Symptoms of rotavirus in puppies are typical of many viral and bacterial infections. These always have the potential to be serious, so the puppy should be evaluated by a veterinarian.

  • Watery diarrhea
  • Mucus in the feces
  • Low-grade fever
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Poor appetite
  • Low energy

Types

There are eight different types of rotavirus, categorized from A-H. Rotaviruses that affect dogs belong to Group A. This is also the group that most commonly affects humans, although B and C have been known to cause outbreaks. Each group is further divided into serotypes or strains. G3 and P3 are the serotypes that have been most commonly found in dogs. These serotypes can affect humans, but this is rare.

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Causes of Intestinal Viral Infection (Rotavirus) in Dogs

Causes of Intestinal Viral Infection (Rotavirus) in Dogs

Rotavirus is spread through contact with feces and other infected fluids. Dogs do not need to show symptoms to be carrying the disease. These conditions make infection more likely.

  • Puppies
  • Weak immune system
  • Combination with another virus
  • Conditions of poor hygiene
  • Overcrowding
  • Large populations of stray or feral dogs
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Diagnosis of Intestinal Viral Infection (Rotavirus) in Dogs

The veterinarian will physically examine puppies that are showing symptoms. Mild enteritis (intestinal infection) is the most common sign. The virus infects the tips of the villi in the small intestine. These cells normally absorb nutrients, so when they are infected, proper digestion becomes impossible and ingested food passes quickly through the intestine causing diarrhea. Lack of essential nutrients can also cause weight loss and low energy.

Rotavirus is sometimes difficult to distinguish from coronavirus and parvovirus since all three viruses cause diarrhea in puppies; however parvovirus is usually responsible for more serious fatal illness than either of the other two infections. The virus can be definitively diagnosed by examining a prepared feces sample under a microscope. This is rarely done for mild cases of rotavirus or coronavirus since there is no cure for either disease and symptoms must be treated supportively. The veterinarian will try to eliminate other more serious causes of infection, such as canine parvovirus, hookworm, or a bacterial infection.

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Treatment of Intestinal Viral Infection (Rotavirus) in Dogs

The most common problem with rotavirus is dehydration. Puppies with severe diarrhea will need to be given extra fluids and electrolytes. Pedialyte can be a good fluid to ensure hydration. If the puppy is unable to drink on its own, or symptoms are severe, the veterinarian may give fluids intravenously. This is rare with rotavirus and suggests that the virus is combined with another infection.  Symptoms usually resolve themselves within 10 days and are rarely fatal.

Rotavirus infection secondary to another disease is more common, and in fact, may be responsible for all but about 2% of cases. Antibiotics could be prescribed to limit bacterial infection resulting from a weakened immune system, although these wouldn’t have any effect against rotavirus. If the puppy also has hookworm, this condition would also need to be treated with medication.

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Recovery of Intestinal Viral Infection (Rotavirus) in Dogs

Most puppies will recover from the disease and likely be protected against further infection. Puppies that are ill should be quarantined to avoid spreading the virus. Adult dogs do not usually show symptoms, but they can still carry the disease. Regular cleaning and disinfectant use can help to limit infection and the virus’s zoonotic potential should always be a concern. Virulent strains are possible since the virus mutates quickly, but this isn’t commonly reported in dogs.

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Intestinal Viral Infection (Rotavirus) Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,500

Average Cost

$850

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Intestinal Viral Infection (Rotavirus) Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Judge and Dakota

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Boxer pit mix

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2 Years

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Fair severity

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1 found helpful

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Watery Diarrhea With Blood

I have two dogs that have been sick. Started randomly. Watery, liquid diarrhea and it looks like some blood is present. Its bee. 5+ days, and one of my dogs is still having this. One dog has had all tests done. Everything came back negative. They are on a chicken and rice diet.

July 30, 2018

Judge and Dakota's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Sometimes dogs will pick of some form of viral gastroenteritis and it is just a case of providing supportive and symptomatic care as there is no direct treatment, just waiting for symptoms to resolve over time. You should ensure that they are keeping hydrated and drinking regularly, but if there is no improvement you should return to your Veterinarian. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 31, 2018

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Jazz

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Collie

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11 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea

My dog stayed with a friend last week. Friend's dog got diarrhea on Tuesday. Vet checked stool and it was negative. Given a prescription for Metronidazole and bland diet. Was back to normal stools by Wednesday. On Friday my dog developed watery diarrhea. Started Metronidazole on Sunday and bland diet and probiotic. As of today, Monday, stools are not yet fully formed but we are on our way. How long should I keep my dog separated from other dogs so we don't continue the spread of the illness?

June 26, 2018

Jazz's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

You should keep Jazz separated for the coming week, however it all depends on what the specific underlying infection was; however, better to be on the safe side. It is good that Jazz is responding to treatment, continue with treatment and follow up with your Veterinarian if there is a recurrence. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

June 26, 2018

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Madison

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Labrador Retriever

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5 Years

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Mild severity

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1 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea
Lethargy

Hi, my dog went from having firm stools in the morning and afternoon to diarrhea in the late evening, where she had the urgency to go 5 times in the middle of the night. After starting her on chicken and rice, the urgency has subsided. It has been 6 days since it started. There is mucous and blood present in her stool. Through this, she continues to have an appetite. The vet has ruled out parasites and she has not had an official examination. What could it be?

May 12, 2018

Madison's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Possible causes for her problem may be an intestinal infection, a partial foreign body or irritation due to something that she ate, specific parasites like Giardia that need specialized testing, or a food intolerance. Since the problem seems to be persisting and she is having blood in her stool, it would be best to follow up with your veterinarian, have an examination, and see if there are any other medications or testing that Madison may need to resolve this problem.

May 13, 2018

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RUGER

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Labrador Retriever

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14 Months

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Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting

My 14 month old lab started throwing up about 24 hours ago. Threw up about 10 to 15 times in the last 24 hours consistency ranges from clear liquid almost like water to some stomach fluids with food particles. Have not fed him for the last 30 hours, any thoughts please

Feb. 12, 2018

RUGER's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Thank you for your email. Young dogs are prone to parasites, infectious diseases, and intestinal foreign bodies. It would be best to have him examined by a veterinarian, as they can see him, determine what might be going on, and recommend any testing or treatment that might be needed for him. I hope that he is okay.

Feb. 12, 2018

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Puti

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Boston Terrier and Chihuahua mix

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9 Months

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Weakness
Vomiting
Loose To Watery Stool,

Puti had loose to watery stool 3x in a day, vomited 1x and seems to have trouble getting up on the sofa on his own. He was not eating his pellets, but does drink.

Jan. 18, 2018

Puti's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Thank you for your email. Without more information, and without seeing Puti, I cannot diagnose what might be going on with him. If he is vomiting, not eating and having diarrhea, it would be best to have him seen as soon as possible by your veterinarian. Puppies are susceptible to intestinal infections, parasites, and infectious disease such as Parvo virus. He may need supportive care and medical treatments. I hope that he is okay.

Jan. 18, 2018

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Intestinal Viral Infection (Rotavirus) Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,500

Average Cost

$850

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